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Israel Photography by Yoav Cohen

Leading Lines - Western Negev Agriculture



 

Just 22,145 km² large, Israel is one of the smallest countries on earth. To compare - New Jersey alone is 22,608 km² in size, Iceland is 103,000 km² and Laos expands to 237,955 km².


In this relatively tiny space live 9 million people, and in the same tiny space you will also find rural landscapes that seemingly stretch to the ends of the earth.


Travel along any of Israel's roads - from northern pastures of the Golan Heights, through the Jezreel Valley, the country's center and even harshest parts of the desert - you are almost always a stone throw away from someone growing something. The Western Negev is no different.


While driving to a meeting in Ofakim on an overcast day, my colleague and navigator Nitzan spotted a few tractors in the field on the side of road 241. We decided to investigate by drone, and quickly discovered that we had come across a spring-time cabbage harvest.


From the ground nothing seemed too intriguing, it was a routine pit stop to stretch our legs after an hour long drive from Tel Aviv. From the air the story was very different. Browns met greens of different shades. Workers blended in to , and then break the straight, leading lines as they progressed through the harvest.


And then you remember - that this is still a desert - the place where the Kibbutz Movement settled the land, defended it, and invented the idea of modern, proud, and independent Jewish labor. Its where geniuses like Simcha Blass, the visionary behind drip irrigation populated by Netafim, invented technologies that amaze the world to this day.


Today it's where Israeli society is most challenged - in creating and maintaining high quality employment opportunities and incentivizing younger generations to break out of the Center, despite the geographical distance and immanent security threats from Gaza.



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